Nothing is ever easy in fantasy football, and that's what makes it fun. Whether it be injuries, poor matchups or underperformance it's rare that we can count on starting the same players week-in and week-out. Sometimes we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for options in good spots that given week for a desperation play.
Here we will look at five candidates each week, one or two from each of the four fantasy-relevant positions that make good spot starts in their upcoming games. These players are widely available on league waiver wires or sitting on the end of your bench, but whether by newfound opportunity or a good matchup, present sneaky value for the coming week.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins (7.9 percent owned)
With all of the teams on byes in Week 9, this is a light streaming week at the quarterback position. Sam Bradford was an option against the Lions, but after seeing his offensive line get him wrecked countless times on Monday night, we need to be wary of that. As such, Ryan Tannehill might present the best option for a floor play among low-owned quarterbacks.
Tannehill had a disastrous two-game stretch against the Bengals and Titans, but has otherwise been solid for fantasy purposes. His receivers should also have good matchups in this spot, as well. Jarvis Landry won't see any much strong competition in the slot and over the middle of the field with rookie coverage backer Darron Lee hurting. DeVante Parker's sophomore season has been a major disappointment, but he could get over on a fading Darrelle Revis. The former All-Pro cornerback allowed six receptions and 101 passing yards to Terrelle Pryor on 49 coverage plays last week. Parker is not the player Pryor is right now, despite their difference in pedigrees, but he could beat Revis with pure speed alone.
Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1.7 percent owned)
With news that Jacquizz Rodgers will miss the Buccaneers Thursday night tilt with the Falcons, we now have two more backup running backs to consider as possible spot starters. To say that we have any clarity whatsoever would be a bit of a stretch. In their Week 7 win over the 49ers, undrafted rookie Peyton Barber played in relief duties on 23 percent of the snaps. Barber busted out for 61 yards and a long touchdown on six fourth quarter carries, but he still had six rush attempts in the first three quarters, as well. Nevertheless, Antone Smith took 20 snaps while Barber played on just two in Week 8 when Rodgers went down.
Whoever draws the majority of the touches for the Bucs on Thursday night is in a solid spot. The Falcons give up a ton of production to running backs, as they are second in the NFL in both receiving yards and receptions allowed to the position. Tampa Bay also plays at home on Thursday night. Since 2014, home teams have a .600-win percentage on Thursday Night Football. Running backs on winning teams are typically in better position to rack up carries and generally perform better in fantasy. If you're picking between Barber and Smith, good luck, honestly. But if it were me, I'd go with Barber, who has looked explosive when he got touches and has the size to be a goal line back.
Jeff Janis, WR, Green Bay Packers (0.7 percent owned)
It finally happened. 2015 playoff hero Jeff Janis got some real burn in the regular season in taking 93 percent of the Packers snaps during their loss to the Falcons. If Randall Cobb and/or Ty Montgomery miss Week 9, Janis would once again take the majority of snaps as one of the Packers outside receivers while Jordy Nelson shifts into the slot. The absence of Cobb and Montgomery vacated a ton of work in the scoring position, as the duo combined for 13 red zone targets from Weeks 5-7. Janis hauled in a red zone touchdown in Week 8, and could make some noise in a likely shootout with the Colts this week if injuries force him into action.
Brian Quick, WR, Los Angeles Rams (3.0 percent owned)
Kenny Britt has received plenty of due press for the bounce-back season he's enjoying in Los Angeles, but all the while, Brian Quick has also managed to establish himself. Quick racked up 276 and three touchdowns from Weeks 3 to 7 and never registered below 51 yards receiving. He totaled season-highs in targets (nine), receiving yards (92) and snap share (71 percent) in their London game before the bye.
The Panthers travel to LA to take on the Rams in Week 9. The Panthers bleed big plays to wide receivers, giving up the second-highest yards per target (9.28) to the position. Quick has been the downfield threat for the Rams this season, as his 14.1-yard average depth of target leads the Rams top-four receivers. If you're in need of a desperation big-play heave at the wide receiver spot, Quick can be that hope and prayer for you.
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens (9.0 percent owned)
Opportunity has not been an issue for Dennis Pitta in his startling comeback season. Pitta's 8.14 targets per game rank third amongst tight ends this year, trailing only Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen. He's also tied for second on the Ravens in red zone targets, but hasn't found the end zone yet this year. Positive touchdown regression is coming for Pitta and it could happen as soon as this week.
The Ravens welcome the arch-rival Steelers in Week 9. Pittsburgh gives up the fourth-most yards per game (68.3) to opposing tight ends on just 62 targets. Middle of the field coverage has been an issue for the team most of this season, and Pitta should be able to exploit that. Many fantasy owners dropped the reborn tight end due to his lack of touchdowns, but this is a week he will correct that.